How hospital CEOs can be agents of change

Hospital chief executives have a vital role to play as agents of a change in the healthcare status quo, according to Becker's Hospital Review.

Hospital outcomes are under more scrutiny than ever before, particularly those of nonprofits, according to Robin Singleton, executive vice president & practice leader at DHR International's National Healthcare Practice. As a result, CEO duties are increasingly diverse and complex, Singleton wrote, and to manage a healthcare organization in the current industry landscape, a CEO must have several qualities, including:

  • Sensitivity to change's effects on stakeholders

  • Ability to identify problems and necessary improvements

  • Original, creative strategies

  • Confidence in implementing newly-developed care and payment models

Within the industry, Singleton wrote, leaders increasingly value information technology, retail strategies, productivity and strategies to eliminate waste.This is one reason healthcare organizations increasingly seek to recruit talent from other sectors, such as finance, with two out of three hospital CEOs hired in 2013 having little or no healthcare experience.

However, physician leadership can also improve outcomes, according to a 2014 whitepaper from the American College of Physician Executives (ACPE). The ACPE report found that in 2013, the top five-performing hospitals in the nation were led by physicians, FierceHealthcare previously reported. Prioritizing physician voices is increasingly important as population health management becomes a greater part of CEO duties.

In short, Singleton wrote, the job of the CEO has changed from a financial administrator focused on hospital operations to spearheading improvement both financially and clinically. This means "[i]t is imperative that CEOs define and drive strategies and establish cohesiveness within systems, and those charged with recruiting and hiring must invest fully in competitive compensation packages to attract the talent needed."

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